General Motors Corp. has signed a multiyear contract with OAO GMK Norilsk for the supply of palladium, platinum and rhodium, so-called “precious” metals used in automotive exhaust catalysts.

The Wall Street Journal says the Russian company will be one of several precious-metal suppliers to GM, but that the contract is the first by which GM will buy the materials directly from Norilsk.

The arrangement, the report says, is part of Norilsk’s strategy to develop longer-term supply agreements.

Auto makers have in recent years been subject to volatile market prices for the precious metals used in catalytic converters, and all have been working to develop catalysts that require markedly less quantity of the materials.

Ford Motor Co., for one, now employs catalysts that use palladium almost exclusively, virtually eliminating platinum and rhodium.